In games of association football teams compete to score the most goals during the match. A goal is scored when the ball passes completely over a goal line at each end of the field of play between two centrally positioned upright goal posts 24 feet (7.32 m) apart and underneath a horizontal crossbar at a height of 8 feet (2.44 m) — this frame is also referred to as a goal. Each team aims to score at one end of the pitch, while also preventing their opponents scoring at the other. Nets are usually attached to the goal frame to catch goalscoring balls, but the ball is not required to touch the net.
Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of eleven players. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field called a pitch with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal.
Rules concerning goal scoring are described in Law 10 of the Laws of the Game:
The Laws of the Game (LOTG) are the codified rules that help define association football. They are the only rules of association football subscribed to by FIFA. The laws mention the number of players a team should have, the game length, the size of the field and ball, the type and nature of fouls that referees may penalise, the frequently misinterpreted offside law, and many other laws that define the sport. During a match, it is the task of the referee to interpret and enforce the Laws of the Game.
A goal is scored when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line, between the goalposts and under the crossbar, provided that no offence has been committed by the team scoring the goal.
In the sport of association football, fouls and misconduct are acts committed by players which are deemed by the referee to be unfair and are subsequently penalized. An offense may be a foul, misconduct or both depending on the nature of the offence and the circumstances in which it occurs. Fouls and misconduct are addressed in Law 12 of the Laws of the Game.
As with other cases of the ball travelling out of the field of play, all of the ball must cross all of the line, otherwise play continues.A goal is credited to the team attacking the goal scored upon, regardless of which team actually caused the ball to enter the goal. A ball entering a goal from the action of a player defending that goal is called an own goal.
The ball in and out of play is the ninth law of the Laws of the Game of association football, and describes to the two basic states of play in the game.
An own goal is an event in competitive goal-scoring sports where a player scores on their own side of the playing area rather than the one defended by the opponent. Own goals sometimes result from the opponent's defensive strength, as when the player is stopped in the scoring area, but can also happen by accident. Since own goals are often added to the opponent's score, they are often an embarrassing blunder for the scoring player, but in certain sports are occasionally done for strategic reasons.
Even if serious foul play unambiguously prevents scoring a goal (a professional foul), a referee cannot award a goal if it does not enter the goal as described above; i.e., there is no provision for awarding a goal akin to the penalty try in rugby football or the goaltending offence in basketball (although such a provision did once exist, as described below).
In various sports, a professional foul is a deliberate act of foul play intended to bring about an advantage for the perpetrator's team. Professional fouls are usually committed to prevent an opponent from scoring.
In association football, the referee is the person responsible for enforcing the Laws of the Game during the course of a match. He or she is the final decision-making authority on all facts connected with play, and is the only official on the pitch with the authority to start and stop play and impose disciplinary action against players during a match. At most levels of play the referee is assisted by two assistant referees, who are empowered to advise the referee in certain situations such as the ball leaving play or infringements of the Laws of the Game occurring out of the view of the referee; however, the assistant referees' decisions are not binding and the referee has authority to overrule an assistant referee. At higher levels of play the referee may also be assisted by a fourth official who supervises the teams' technical areas and assists the referee with administrative tasks, and, at the very highest levels, additional assistant referees and/or video assistant referees.
Rugby refers to the team sports rugby league and rugby union, but generally refers to rugby union due to its popularity throughout the globe.
A goal cannot be scored directly from a dropped ball, indirect free kick or a throw-in. Should the ball go into the goal from these without first being touched by another player, play is restarted with a goal kick. A player cannot score an own goal directly from any restart of play (other than a penalty kick); in that case a corner kick would be awarded. Both of these situations, especially the latter, are exceedingly rare.
An indirect free kick is a method of restarting play in a game of association football that is awarded to a team following most types of technical infringements of the Laws of the Game. In an indirect free kick, the non-offending team is entitled to freely kick the ball from the ground at the spot of the infringement, with opponents required to be at least 10 yards (9.1 m) from the ball. The kicking team may not score a goal directly from an indirect free kick; the ball must first touch another player of either team in order for a goal to be scored. If the ball enters the goal directly from an indirect free kick, a goal kick is awarded to the opponent, unless it enters the kicker's own goal, in which case a corner kick is awarded.
A throw-in is a method of restarting play in a game of football when the ball has exited the side of the field of play.
A goal kick, called a goalie kick in some regions, is a method of restarting play in a game of association football. Its procedure is dictated by Law 16 of the Laws of the Game.
If there is time remaining in the session of play, after a goal has been scored play is restarted with a kick-off by the side which conceded the goal.
Most goals are relatively unambiguous, as the ball will usually strike the net attached to the goal structure indicating that it passed the goal line as described above. Occasionally, however, situations occur where it is difficult for officials to tell if the ball completely crossed the goal line before a rebound, save, or clearance from the goal area. Additionally, even if the ball crosses the goal line as required, a goal may be disallowed if the attacking team commits an infringement of the Laws of the Game, such as the offside offence or a foul.
As with all other decisions on the Laws of the Game, the referee is the final authority as to whether a goal is scored or disallowed. The match referee is advised by assistant referees, whose view across the pitch from the sidelines may in some cases be more useful in determining whether the ball crossed the goal line or whether the attacking team committed an infringement.
The goal net was one of the earliest tools employed to aid match officials in determining whether a goal was scored. Introduced in the 1890s, the goal net provides a simple way to determine whether the ball passed on the correct side of the goal posts and crossbar. Although not mandated by the Laws of the Game, goal nets are now ubiquitous across most levels of organised football. Since 2012, goal-line technology has been used at the highest levels of professional football; it employs a system of cameras and sensors to provide the referee with a discreet signal when the ball has crossed the goal line.The video assistant referee was added in 2018 after years of trials; this is an additional assistant referee who constantly monitors video footage of the match and is empowered to advise the referee if he/she may have made a clear error in awarding a goal.
The Laws make no mention of attributing goals to individual players. Nevertheless, goals are almost always attributed to individual players, that player being the one who provided the final action causing the goal to be scored. Generally, this is the last player to touch the ball, notwithstanding inconsequential deflections such as failed attempts at a save. Should a player cause a goal to be scored against their own team, the goal is recorded as an own goal.
The authority on attributing goals varies between competitions. The Premier League in England has a dedicated Dubious Goals Committee for resolving attribution disputes.
For an individual player, scoring multiple goals in a game is considered a notable achievement. In association football, a hat-trick refers to the uncommon feat of scoring three goals in a single game. Awards exist for individual players who score the most goals in some competitions, such awards are often called the "Golden Boot".
Players will typically celebrate scoring a goal with team mates, occasionally putting on elaborate displays for the crowd. The Laws allow this, but mandate that celebration must not be "excessive".
On average, only a few scores occur per game in association football.
|Competition||Average number of goals per game|
|2015–16 Premier League||2.70|
|2015–16 La Liga||2.74|
|2014 FIFA World Cup||2.67|
|2015 FIFA Women's World Cup||2.81|
An analysis of several years' results from several English leagues found that 1–0 was the most common result, occurring in approximately 20% of games.
In English traditional football, the object of the game was typically to convey a ball by any means possible into a specified area, or to touch a specific object (the area or object often being called the "goal")defended by the opposing team. This feat might itself be called a "goal"; alternative names such as "inn" were also in use. The game might be decided by a fixed number of goals (e.g. first goal scored wins or best of three) or be played for a fixed period of time.
In the more formalized football games of English public schools and universities, the object was typically to kick the ball between goal-posts guarded by the opposition. This might be required to be above a crossbar (as in the game of football played at Rugby School), below a bar or other object (as in the Sheffield Rules of 1862) or at any height (as at Shrewsbury School).
|Ball must go between posts above specified height|
|Rugby School||1862||10 feet||Must go above crossbar. Goal is void if ball is touched by opposition. Posts are 18 feet high. The width of the goal is not specified in the laws, but the novel Tom Brown's School-Days reports it as approximately 14 feet.|
|Marlborough College||1863||24 feet||9 feet|
|Ball must go between posts below specified height|
|Uppingham School||1857||"six paces"||Ball must go below cross-bar. Later version (1871) of rules specifies a goal 40 feet wide and 7 feet high.|
|Eton Field Game||1862||11 feet||7 feet||No crossbar; ball must not go above height of the posts.|
|Sheffield FC||1862||12 feet||9 feet||Must go below crossbar.|
|The Simplest Game||1862||Ball must go below crossbar. Goal disallowed "if thrown by hand".|
|Charterhouse School||1863||Ball must go below "cord". Goal void if ball "hit or otherwise impelled through by the hands of any one of the side who are not defending the goal".|
|Ball must go between posts at any height|
|Harrow School||1858||12 feet||N/A||Goals (both the physical target and the method of scoring) are called "bases".|
|Melbourne FC||1860||N/A||Width of the goal is agreed between captains. Goal is void if ball touches a post or a defending player.|
|Blackheath FC||1862||N/A||Goal is void if ball touches a defending player.|
|Shrewsbury School||1863||40 feet||N/A|
|Cambridge Rules||1863||15 feet||N/A||Earlier version of Cambridge Rules (1856) required ball to go under a "string".|
|Football Association||1863||24 feet||N/A||Goal void if the ball is handled.|
|Ball must cross line (at any height)|
|Surrey FC||1849||N/A||N/A||Ball must cross "goal rope".|
|Winchester College||1863||N/A||N/A||Ball must cross goal-line. Earlier version of the game used "goal-sticks" (posts). Goal is void if "an opposing player can touch it as it passes, and then, leaping up, alight with one foot beyond the goal-line.".|
When the nascent Football Association met on the 10th November 1863 to consider its first set of rules, the draft created by its secretary E. C. Morley allowed a goal to be scored at any height between two goal-posts 8 yards apart.Morley's proposal met with objections expressed in correspondence from J. C. Thring of Uppingham School, and also from William Chesterman of Sheffield F. C., principally on the grounds that it would be difficult to judge whether a ball that went above the height of the posts should count as a goal; Thring correctly predicted that a crossbar "w[ould] be adopted in the end". Nevertheless, this feature of the game was preserved in the Association's first published set of laws, which read:
A goal shall be won when the ball passes between the goal posts or over the space between the goal posts (at whatever height), not being thrown, knocked on, or carried
At the first revision of the FA rules, in 1866, a tape was introduced between the posts at a height of 8 feet, with a goal counting only if the ball went below this tape.According to a contemporary newspaper report of the meeting:
The chairman urged some strong reasons why a goal should not be won so long as the ball was between the posts at no matter what height, and quoted an instance which occurred at Reigate, where one of the opposite side raised the ball quite 90 feet in the air between the goal posts. A dispute arose as to whether the goal was won or not, and the bystanders decided that the ball was kicked between the posts, but he thought it was a most unsatisfactory goal, and was therefore decidedly in favour of goals being kicked under the tape
In 1875, after a proposal by Queen's Park FC, the laws allowed the option of using either a crossbar or tape.In December 1882 an "international conference", held to address discrepancies between the laws used by the English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish football associations, recommended requiring the use of a crossbar; this change was introduced into the Football Association's laws in 1883.
The dimensions of the goal (8 yards wide and 8 feet high) have remained unchanged since 1866.
The original FA laws of 1863 disallowed a goal when the ball was "thrown, knocked on, or carried",even if the handling was otherwise legal. In 1882, a change in the laws, introduced by N. Lane Jackson of Finchley FC and Morton Betts of Old Harrovians FC, made it possible to score an own goal by use of the hands.
In 1962, a change introduced by the Scottish Football Association permitted a goal-keeper to score a goal by throwing the ball into the opposing goal from his own penalty area.This innovation was heavily criticized in some quarters. In 1974, a further change to the laws allowed a goal to be scored when the ball was handled unintentionally by an attacker. In 2019 both of these changes were reversed.
The original laws of the game, in 1863, had no punishments for infringements of the rules.In 1872, the indirect free kick was introduced as a punishment for handball, and later for other offences. This indirect free-kick was thought to be an inadequate remedy for a handball which prevented an otherwise-certain goal. From a meeting of the Sheffield Football Association in February 1879, we have the following report:
It was proposed by Mr. T. Banks, on behalf of the Norfolk Club, to add to law 8 — "If any player of the defending side, except the goalkeeper, stop the ball with his hands within three yards of the goal, when it is going in goal, it shall count a goal to the opponents."
After a "long and noisy discussion", the change was rejected. At the 1881 meeting of the Football Association, a similar proposal was introduced by J. Arnall and J. B. Clayton of the Birmingham Football Association, but it was likewise rejected.Such a law was finally approved the next year, to become part of the FA's laws for the 1882-83 season:
When any player, other than the goal-keeper, wilfully stops a ball in the vicinity of his own goal by using his hands when, in the opinion of the umpires or referee, the ball would have passed through the goal, a goal shall be scored to his opponents.
This goal, which was similar to today's penalty try in rugby, survived as part of the game for only one season. In December 1882, an "international conference" was held to address discrepancies between the laws used by the English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish football associations.One of the results of this conference was that this law was removed from the laws for the 1883-4 season. One commentator wrote that the rule "was the means of causing the referee a very awkward point to decide at times, and we all know the duties of the referee are heavy enough without this; and, further, the penalty, in my opinion, is too great [...] A free kick [...] is quite sufficient".
The laws have at various times restricted the ability to score from a set-piece situation (such as a free kick or corner-kick).
|Free kick awarded for||Penalty|
Gaelic football, commonly referred to as football or Gaelic, is an Irish team sport. It is played between two teams of 15 players on a rectangular grass pitch. The objective of the sport is to score by kicking or punching the ball into the other team's goals or between two upright posts above the goals and over a crossbar 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) above the ground.
Offside is one of the laws of association football, codified in Law 11 of the Laws of the Game. The law states that a player is in an offside position if any of their body parts, except the hands and arms, are in the opponents' half of the pitch, and closer to the opponents' goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent.
In sports, a goal is a physical structure or area where an attacking team must send the ball or puck in order to score points. In several sports, a goal is the sole method of scoring, and thus the final score is expressed in the total number of goals scored by each team. In other sports, a goal may be one of several scoring methods, and thus may be worth a different set number of points than the others.
A penalty kick is a method of restarting play in association football, in which a player is allowed to take a single shot on the goal while it is defended only by the opposing team's goalkeeper. It is awarded when a foul punishable by a direct free kick is committed by a player in their own penalty area. The shot is taken from the penalty mark, which is 12 yards (11 m) from the goal line and centred between the touch lines.
A try is a way of scoring points in rugby union and rugby league football. A try is scored by grounding the ball in the opposition's in-goal area. Rugby union and league differ slightly in defining 'grounding the ball' and the 'in-goal' area.
A corner kick is the method of restarting play in a game of association football when the ball goes out of play over the goal line, without a goal being scored, and having last been touched by a member of the defending team. The kick is taken from the corner of the field of play nearest to where it went out. Corners are considered to be a reasonable goal scoring opportunity for the attacking side, though not as much as a penalty kick or a direct free kick near the edge of the penalty area.
A football pitch is the playing surface for the game of association football. Its dimensions and markings are defined by Law 1 of the Laws of the Game, "The Field of Play". The surface can either be natural or artificial. Artificial surfaces must be green in colour. The pitch is typically made of turf (grass) or artificial turf, although amateur and recreational teams often play on dirt fields.
A kick-off is the method of starting and, in some cases, restarting play in a game of association football. The rules concerning the kick-off are part of Law 8 of the Laws of the Game.
The Sheffield Rules was a code of football devised and played in the English city of Sheffield between 1857 and 1877. They were devised by Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest for use by the newly founded Sheffield Football Club. The rules were subsequently adopted as the official rules of Sheffield Football Association upon its creation in 1867. They spread beyond the city boundaries to other clubs and associations in the north and midlands of England making them one of the most popular forms of football during the 1860s and 70s.
In association football, the back-pass rule prohibits the goalkeeper from handling the ball in most cases when it is passed to them by a team-mate. It is described in Law 12, Section 2 of the Laws of the Game.
John Charles Thring, known during his life as "Charles Thring" or "J. C. Thring", was an English clergyman and teacher, notable for his contributions to the early history of association football.
Futsal began in the 1930s in South America as a version of association football, taking elements of its parent game into an indoor format so players could still play during inclement weather. Over the years, both sports have developed, creating a situation where the two sports share common traits while also hosting various differences.
Determining the Outcome of a Match is the 10th of the Laws of the Game of association football.
London v. Sheffield was an association football game played on 31 March 1866. According to Charles Alcock, it was the "first [match] of any importance under the auspices of the Football Association".
The Gole being fixed, and Two Inns out of Three being to determine who were Conquerors.
Having touched with the Ball the appointed Gate Post, the champion who held the ball was immediately hoisted on the necks of his exulting companions [...]
After they had played two full hours [...] the gentlemen of Sharlston got the first goal
it must go over the bar and between the posts without having touched the dress or person of any player
A goal could be kicked at any height.
It shall be a goal if the ball goes over the bar (whether it touches or not) without having touched the dress or person of any player; but no player may stand on the goal bar to interrupt it going over.
[T]hey came to a sort of gigantic gallows of two poles eighteen feet high, fixed upright in the ground some fourteen feet apart, with a cross-bar running from one to the other at the height of ten feet or thereabouts
A goal must be a kick through or over and between the poles, and if touched by the hands of one of the opposite side before or whilst going through is no goal.
A goal shall be won when the ball passes between the goal posts under the tape, not being thrown, knocked on, or carried.
A goal shall be won when the ball has passed between the goal-posts under the tape or bar, not being thrown, knocked on nor carried by anyone of the attacking side[emphasis added]
provided [the ball] has not been thrown, carried, or propelled by hand or arm, by a player of the attacking side, except in the case of a goal-keeper, who is within his own penalty area[emphasis added]
provided [the ball] has not been thrown, carried, or intentionally propelled by hand or arm, by a player of the attacking side[emphasis added]